Tuesday, November 17, 2009

M/M Meme

I was tagged by Renee over at Renee's Book Addiction for this M/M meme, created by Kris at Kris ‘n’ Good Books.

This is the first meme I participate in and I think it's fitting that it should be about Manlove, especially after I went down memory lane/road this week. :) So, here are the rules as set by Kris.


1) Answer all the questions below in either the comments here or post it on your own site. If you post it on your own site you have to come back and give the link here so I/Kris can mosey on over and see if you answered correctly have a sticky beak.

2) You have to tag two other people once you're done and pester them relentlessly until they do the meme too.

3) Instead of a meme image thing you have to post a cookie, preferably a twofer. It is an m/m meme after all.

Here is my cookie, one romantic twofer. Enjoy.


1. How long have you been reading GLBTQ fiction?
About two years.

2. What was the first book you read in this genre?
The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson

3. Are you ‘out’ as a reader?
Yes, I'm out of the closet. ;P

4. Ebooks, print or both?
Mostly ebooks, but I have some of my favorites in print.

5. Do you buy direct from publishers or from secondary sellers?
I prefer to buy directly from the publishers, but will buy from secondary sellers sometimes.

6. Prove you’re a Book Slut. How many books would you say you buy a week?
I’m currently trying to make a dent on my M/M TBR pile. I don't really keep track, some weeks I buy more than others. I'd say average 3-5 M/M books per week, probably more.

7. Are you a cover, blurb or excerpt buyer?

8. Yeah, you read reviews, but do you actually take notice of them?
If I'm going to read the book, I skim the review & go back to read it after I'm finished. I don't like spoilers and like to have a fresh approach when I pick up a book. But yes, sometimes I'll read a review and it will make me pick up a book I would otherwise not have read. It depends on the story and the reviewer.

9. Who’s your fave publisher?
I don't have a favorite publisher, I have favorite authors. Although I love the quality coming out of Blind Eye Books.

10. What about authors? Your top two only!!
This is a tough one to answer. I have more than two because of the different sub-genres I enjoy reading. But, I'll choose Chris Owen for romance and Sean Michael for gay lit.

11. Is there a sub-genre you particularly dis/like?
Yes, M/M historical romance. Can't read it, although I've tried.

12. Short or long?? *rolls eyes* And, no, I’m not talking about cocks.
I'm not particular and enjoy both. In my experience, long, full and fat is quite enjoyable, but a good short one can be just as fulfilling. *g* (Books, of course I'm talking about books!)

13. Anything turn you off about m/m or is all just glorious smut to you?
Yes. None consensual sex scenes that attempt to pass as hot in BDSM, or badly done light BDSM. I do love smut though... it's glorious.

14. Finish this sentence. You know it’s m/m twu wuv when…
...a top who has never bottomed is willing to switch anytime, anywhere.

15. What trope or theme are you heartily sick of in m/m romance?
In romance it has to be insta lurv.

16. If you could choose any 3 characters for a m/m/m who would they be?
Jake (Bareback by Chris Owen)/Rig(Jar Heads by Sean Michael)/René DuBois (Samantha Kane’s Islands)

17. What new GLBTQ release are you most hanging out for right now?
Lord Foster's Devils by Ginn Hale.

18. What GLBTQ book has completely blown you away this year?
Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale.

19. What do you think we’ll see more of in m/m romance in 2010?
Steampunk & Yaoi will continue.

20. Don’t you agree that author Josh Lanyon should kill off arsehole character Jake Riordan?
Nooooo, Jake can't be killed. At least NOT until I start reading and catch up with this series, lol!

I tag for this M/M meme:

Indigene (aka/Cowboy Junkie)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mini-Impressions: Latest M/M Reads #3

I recently re-read the following four M/M books. The Assignment was the first M/M erotica book I read and the one that started the whole M/M "research" obsession on my part. Yes, "research"... *g*.

I read quite a few other books in between this first book, Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes andThe Tin Star by J.L. Langley, but I remember these were the books that made a difference to me. These were the books that kept me reading M/M and looking for more. With time, much reading and continued research, my tastes have evolved and changed, and I've discovered many wonderful and favorite authors. However, these books continue to hold a special place and I suspect they always will. After all they were the ones that introduced me to a whole new genre I now love and can't stop reading. :)

The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson
Detective Nicholas Valenti, tall, dark and stoic, has been best friends with his partner, Sean O’Brian for six years. The two men have seen each other through divorce, disaster and danger and saved each other’s asses more times than Valenti can count. Exactly when he started seeing his blond, intense partner in another light, Valenti isn’t really sure. He only knows that he wants O’Brian in a way that had nothing to do with friendship and everything to do with possession. It is a desire he will have to hide forever because O’Brian is undeniably straight.

Just as Valenti is coming to grips with his new, unacceptable feelings for his partner their police Captain puts them on a new case that could blow Valenti’s cover once and for all. He and O’Brian are going undercover at the country’s largest and most infamous gay resort to bust a notorious drug lord and stop the shipments of poison cocaine that are flooding the gay bars all over the city.

Now Valenti will have to make a choice between friendship and desire. He and O’Brian will play the roles of gay men that will push the limits of their relationship to the breaking point. Will their time at the RamJack forge a new bond between them or destroy their partnership forever?
I always think of The Assignment as the ultimate "double gay for you" story. As I was going down memory lane as this was my first M/M book ever, I remember falling in love with O'Brian and thinking these were two HOT cops (I mean WOW, I was blind sighted by M/M!) and wanting to read more about them. At the time, I went ahead and gobbled up the follow up stories, I'll Be Hot for Christmas and Fireworks. :)

As I re-read the book, I remembered that I was frustrated by Valenti's attitude throughout, and that was still the case this time. He was so centered on his own feelings that he was oblivious to O'Brian's. The other thing that hit me was the fact that I didn't buy the fact that O'Brian's feelings came to the forefront during their undercover gig... I always thought his feelings were there waaaayyyy before then and he knew it. It seems to me that's the way it was presented throughout the book. What I found and enjoyed again was the sexual tension in the story and the encounters between Valenti and O'Brian. I enjoyed them during this re-read just as much as I did the first time. :)

Out of My Mind by M. L. Rhodes
For four years Rafferty Jones and Nick Tucker have worked side-by side as police detectives in their small Maine town. But lately, Rafferty’s imagination has been creating fantasies about Nick—more specifically, about Nick and him together—that have shocked Rafferty. Detailed erotic scenarios a thirty-something, set-in-his-ways straight man shouldn’t be imagining. He’s been struggling to keep them secret, afraid that if Nick discovers the truth it will end their friendship. But with each passing day it’s getting harder and harder to pretend Nick is “just” a friend. And harder and harder for Rafferty to come to terms with the possibility he might not be as straight as he’s always believed.

Nick’s always known he’s gay and he’s had deep feelings for Rafferty for years. But after a difficult experience at his former police precinct in Boston, he decided when he moved to Maine to keep his sexual orientation under wraps on the job. He wants to be acknowledged at work for what he can do, not who he’s doing. And with Rafferty being straight, there’s always been a clear-cut line that Nick’s known he can’t cross with his unsuspecting partner and best friend. And yet...for the past few months it’s become difficult to remember that line. He’s not sure why, he just knows that for the first time in four years his heart and his body are urging him to go for what he really wants...Rafferty.

When a stormy weekend trip on Rafferty’s boat gives birth to an unexpected night of passion, will it be the spark they need to forge a new and deeper relationship? Or will Nick’s past and Rafferty’s fear drive a wedge between them that will destroy not only their barely-begun love affair, but their partnership and friendship as well?
Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes was the second book that made a difference for me. This is another "gay for you" story that was both frustrating and sexy. When I first read it, I fell in love with both characters. I loved, loved Nick and thought Rafferty was just wonderful. Raff's angst and indecision felt real and raw, and Nick's love felt real and painful. Their love scenes, although few, were great.

I still love that Rhodes didn't make the change easy for Raff, even though I was bleeding with Nick when he was suffering through Raff's indecision about their relationship. And, I still wish Rhodes would write a follow up to this story. I loved Out of My Mind this time just as much as I did the first time.

The Tin Star by J. L. Langley
James Killian learns the hard way that smaller towns are full of bigots. When he comes out to his father he is not only kicked out of his home but off the Quadruple J where he works as the ranch foreman. With nowhere to go and little money, his savior comes in the unlikely form of his older brother’s best friend, the man he’s been in love with for over half his life.

Ethan Whitehall is a successful rancher and a well-respected man in his community. His ranch the Tin Star has been in Ethan’s family for generations and affords him a certain prestige and power in the small town he calls home. Ethan knows without a doubt that all of that could shatter if his sexual orientation were to ever become public. But when he learns his best friend’s younger brother’s banishment and the reasons behind it, Ethan can’t help but get involved. He’s always had a soft spot where Jamie Killian was concerned, and it may very well be his downfall.

The Broken H by J. L. Langley
Sheriff Grayson Hunter hasn’t felt like he belonged for a long time. Once he loved The Broken H, his ancestral home and Shane Cortez with all that he was. Now he tries to stay as far away from the ranch and the man as possible until an accident brings them together.

Shane Cortez has been the Broken H’s foreman for going on twenty years, he’s lived on the ranch for even longer. Because of a rocky past that sent him fleeing his home and seeking refuge on The Broken H, he’s kept himself from the one thing that has always been dear to him…Grayson.

Now Shane has let go of the demons that haunted him for so long. And he wants Gray. They'll have to mend what's broken to make a life together.
I also re-read The Tin Star by J.L. Langley and then just had to go ahead and re-read The Broken H following that. It's been a long, long time since I read these two books. I still feel the same way...

In The Tin Star, I thought the back story about intolerance in the community was the best part of the story and it was well done. Being a newby, at the time I remember loving the fact that I was reading an M/M book that had something important to discuss... it was not just about the sex, lol. Not that I didn't enjoy Ethan and Jamie's scenes, I did -- they are hot. I especially enjoyed Jamie's character and the way he loved. But, I never quite bought Ethan's sudden attraction and love for Jamie. Yes, Jamie was Ethan's best friend's "little brother," but Ethan was never attracted to Jamie until he came out of the closet, and then it was BAM, "OH, there you are... you're hot... I love you"...

There are other questions that were raised in this book that were not answered, and because a book about Jamie's brother John was never written, these issues were left dangling. So yes, plot holes. I always thought that John's actions in The Tin Star were questionable and we never really received good enough reasons for those. I still enjoyed reading it and it was great to re-visit with Ethan and Jamie. I always loved Jamie and never questioned where his love came from, so it was a great nostalgic re-read.

On the other hand, I still think The Broken H is better than the The Tin Star, when it comes to the relationship part of the story. I do believe it's because Gray and Shane knew and loved each other for such a long time and that relationship didn't just pop out of nowhere -- it was established. I thought theirs was a passionate and believable love...

We meet Gray in The Tin Star and quite a few of the characters make an appearance in this book. There is a contrast here between Jamie's coming out of the closet to his father (in The Tin Star) and Gray and Shane's coming out to the parents... an important one, as everyone doesn't have the same experience. I thought this story was better balanced and complete with the erotic romance maintaining the focus, while still bringing in secondary characters into the mix.

So, upon finishing my trip down memory lane, I still enjoyed all of them, but out of the four, my favorites are: Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes and The Broken H by J.L. Langley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mini-Review: A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash

When a girl with no family meets a guy with too much.

For Tori Morgan, family's a blessing the universe hasn't sent her way. Her parents are long gone, her chance of having a baby is slipping away, and the only thing she can call her own is a neglected old house. What she wants more than anything is a place where she belongs, and a big, noisy clan to share her life.

For Nick Santangelo, family's more like a curse. His nonna is a closet kleptomaniac, his mom's a menopausal time bomb and his motherless daughter is headed for serious boy trouble. The last thing Nick needs is another female making demands on his time.

But summer on the Jersey shore can be an enchanted season, when life's hurts are soothed by the ebb and flow of the tides and love can bring together the most unlikely prospects. A hard-headed contractor and a lonely reader of Tarot cards and crystal prisms? All it takes is A Little Light Magic.
A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash is a contemporary romance with a 'hint' of magic, although that part is really quite understated. The hero and heroine are very different people. Tori believes in Tarot cards and magic spells and Nick is as down to earth as you can find them. Yet, this couple had great chemistry -- you will find excellent sexual tension and some really hot moments in this story. Their characters are well developed, their backgrounds explored and the reasons behind their actions and reactions are clear to the reader. I especially enjoyed Nick's conflicts and the way they were complicated by his family.

I loved the way Nash introduced us to and developed the great cast of characters in this book. The Santangelo family members jumped out of the pages, including the brothers and specially Nick's grandmother and his teenage daughter Leigh. The setting is a familiar one for me as this book is set in the Jersey shore -- Atlantic City boardwalk to be exact -- and it was fun revisiting, if not the place, the atmosphere. I could almost taste all that greasy food I enjoyed during my summer visits to the boardwalk.

The heroine did have the "I want a baby NOW" mindset. This theme prevailed throughout the story and that part of it took away some of my overall personal enjoyment of the book. I must confess this is not my favorite device; therefore it's a pretty subjective problem and not a problem with the book itself. Having said that, I hope Ms. Nash writes more books featuring the Santangelo family. Nick's brothers -- Alex, a divorced detective and Johnny, a sexy soap opera actor -- were great characters and I would love to read their story.

I found A Little Light Magic to be an enjoyable contemporary focusing on the romance, and give it a plus for the excellent secondary characters.

You can visit the author here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: Deathwish by Rob Thurman

I read this book back in September and I'm very late posting this review! I just didn't want to let it go by the wayside as I reviewed the other three books in this series. So here it is (better late than never, I say, lol!) Deathwish by Rob Thurman. :)

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who has been following him -- until Seamus turns up dead (on un-dead). Worse still is the return of Cal's nightmarish family, the Auphe.

The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. But first, they'll destroy everything Cal holds dear...

Deathwish is the fourth book in the Cal Leandros urban fantasy series. Rob Thurman begins Deathwish exactly where the last book ended. This series has a wonderful continuous feel to it, but as Madhouse ended with a cliffhanger it is understandable that this particular book would pick up with the exact same scene.

One of the first things we notice in Deathwish is the change in point of view. The first four books are seen strictly through Cal's eyes. In Deathwish, Thurman uses both Cal and Nick's points of view alternating every other chapter to tell the story. This change gives this book a richness that was missing from previous installments and in my opinion makes the series finally feel complete.

I reviewed the first three books in this series with Nath at Breezing Through, and in those reviews she and I discussed the characterization in this series in depth -- it is the characterization I think is its strongest draw. However, by the third book in the series, Madhouse, I thought Niko had started to become a bit stagnant as a character. By adding Niko's thought process to the mix, Thurman makes him an even more compelling character and adds a different dimension to this wonderful series.

One of the things we gain by this added point of view is that now we get to experience Niko and Cal's relationship through Niko's eyes for the first time. Through flashbacks, we have answers to questions previously left unanswered. We now know both brothers are important to each other's growth -- Niko could not have been who he is without Cal, just as Cal might have been a different being without Niko. The relationship is a balanced one.

The plot is multi-layered and our wonderful cast of characters have more than a few impossible challenges to battle in this installment. For starters the Auphe are back and this time they don't want to kill Cal, they want to take him with them. The reasons behind this are enough to make Cal go mad... or make him suicidal -- Niko is not about to let that happen. But the Auphe don't just want to take Cal, they're determined to kill everyone he loves first and Niko is their primary target -- Cal is not about to let them that happen either.

While all this is happening, Promise, Niko's vampire girlfriend and business partner, finds them a gig as bodyguards to Seamus. He's a vampire and an old friend who needs protection from an unknown entity who is stalking him for no apparent reason. However, Promise has been keeping secrets and as they are revealed things start to snowball as the danger escalates for all of them. Here we meet Cherish, Promise's daughter, a selfish and self-absorbed young vampire who places everyone in danger and who doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself.

Promise is placed in a precarious position with Niko, and he in turn becomes weary of her as he finds out she has been less than honest in their relationship. I liked that there is growth in Promise and Nick's relationship at this point. They experience adversity and we see from their reactions how both characters grow and change. Niko in particular is not as black and white in his approach by the end and that made me like him more.

The worldbuilding continues to grow and in this book Thurman weaved it seamlessly with the plot and the characterization. In particular, a new entity is introduced that I think will be important in the future, the Vigil. This is an organization comprised of humans who are aware of these "otherworldly" creatures and who have been keeping tabs on them for an unknown period of time and have detailed knowledge of them. They've been acting as a sort of clean-up crew and spin stories in the media when there are killings throughout the city. Their purpose is supposedly to maintain the human race safe, but mainly I see it as keeping humans oblivious to this other world. This organization is powerful and has access to weapons and government facilities. There was a hint that this group could be a danger to Cal and Niko in the future.

The rest of the characters, Robyn, Delilah, Georgina and Ish all either contribute or make appearances in this installment. As always, Robyn's character is a central one, as Delilah, Georgina and Ish continue to be peripheral characters with the potential for further development.

The plot builds to a crescendo as it all comes together and Thurman ties up all the loose ends to this exciting installment. Deathwish was a well rounded book and the best addition to this series so far. It has everything, the plot is well constructed, the characterization continues to be excellent and to grow, as does the worldbuilding. I hope Thurman continues to use Niko's point of view in future installments, as I think this makes a big difference to the series. I graded the other three books and if I were grading this one, I would give it the highest grade.

You can visit the author here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mini-Impressions: Latest M/M Reads #2

Okay more Mini-Impressions! These are four M/M books I really enjoyed and recommend every single one of them. They are different types of books, you'll find an excellent paranormal, a raw gay lit anthology, a contemporary erotic romance and a contemporary romantic western. My favorite in this foursome is Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple, but then I'm admittedly a cowboy junkie. :)

Damn Gorgeous by Jaye Valentine
Spencer Patterson writes "news" reports on paranormal phenomena for The Weekly Harbinger, a national tabloid magazine. He's had a lifelong love affair with all things supernatural, and having failed at serious news reporting, he eventually merged his hobby with his journalism degree and embarked on a tabloid career.

On assignment in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Fall River, home of the infamous Lizzie Borden axe murders, Spencer meets and falls for sexy Virgil Slade, lifelong resident and owner of a nearby bed-and-breakfast. Things are not as they seem. Virgil, with his hot body, sexy dreadlocks and unusual tattoos, harbors a tremendous secret that turns Spencer's world upside down.
Damn Gorgeous by Jaye Valentine is a book I highlighted as a new release I was looking forward to reading in September. It was not a disappointment. I thought Valentine was very creative when putting together this excellent paranormal piece, but then that's not a surprise. The McLeod/Valentine team seems to have the golden touch when it comes to creating edgy, unique, dark characters and situations for the M/M paranormal sub-genre. If you've read their StarCrossed series, then you already know what I mean. I do hope this is the start of a new series, Damn Gorgeous has that feel to it and lots of potential for some great future installments.

Reckless Behavior by Amanda Young
After six months with his lover, Cody yearns for monogamy. The threesomes he and Dante engage in are fun, but he needs more from the man he loves. Although Cody longs to tell Dante how he feels, he fears love and fidelity are two words missing from his older lover’s vocabulary.

The discovery of a naked man in Dante’s apartment confirms Cody’s worst fears. The cliché Dante uses as an excuse for his betrayal further clouds the issue at hand. Cody doesn’t know whether to trust the word of a man notorious for screwing around, or believe the worst and walk away from love he wants more than anything.
I'm sorry it took me so long to read Amanda Young's Reckless Behavior. This book caught my attention when it was released and then it got lost in my M/M TBR pile during the M/M Reading Challenge. I loved both characters and, although short, it was one hot, sexual read. I love that we get both character's points of view, so we know their feelings from the get go. The older man (not so old) / younger man relationship here worked for me, as did their dilemma. Great read.

How the West was Done Anthology
Men on horseback. Men in saloons swilling back shots of whiskey. Men alone on the trail. Men with desires unfulfilled. Men with an unstoppable passion for each other. This isn't just the retelling of how the old west was won, it's...HOW THE WEST WAS DONE!

In these eleven steamy stories, the archetypal image of the cowboy is given a fresh new spin as the virile man who shares his mind, his passion...and his body with other cowboys. Whether it's a story set in the Wild West of the 1800s or an exploration of the modern-day cowboy, each author takes the cowboy fantasy to new erotic heights. Contributing Authors:Gavin Atlas, Adam Carpenter, M. Christian, Curtis C. Comer, Ryan Field, Michael Luongo, Neil S. Plakcy, Cage Thunder, Jeff Wilcox, Kelvin Williams, Zavo
I finally finished reading How the West Was Done, an Anthology I started during the Challenge. I reviewed Gavin Atlas' story, but didn't read the whole anthology at that time. Boy, oh boy! This anthology was one of the dirtiest! rawest! anthologies I've read so far... you want to talk about the smells and tastes of M/M sex? Well... you'll find them here, some of them are dirty and not pretty, and some of them are touching and unique. So, if you want some raw, dirty, cowboy sex read this anthology. I know I love this type of book once in a while and absolutely enjoyed the heck out of it. If you're squeamish... well... you've been warned.

Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple
Rodeo cowboy Teagan has inherited his father's ranch, and it's in a bad way. He needs to work the rodeo circuit hard to make enough money to pay the bills, so he starts looking for a rodeo partner.

Team roper Cash is just the ticket. He's not the friendliest sort, but he has a good seat and a better roping arm, so Teagan takes Cash on, and as they get to know each other, things start to heat up fast.

Maybe too fast. When Teagan finds out he's not the only one Cash has in the saddle, things go bad, and Teagan thinks he and Cash are over for good. When he gets the call that Cash has had an accident, though, he knows he has to go and see if he can make good. He cares too much about Cash to just let it go.

Like any good rodeo ride, Teagan and Cash have ups and downs, crashing and burning as often as they blaze bright. Can they work through all of the deception and stubborn pride to find a love that works as smoothly as their roping?
Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple is a contemporary western erotic romance that just moved up to the top of my list in this category and is already a favorite. This is a story that I definitely recommend if you like M/M cowboy stories. I fell in love with both characters, Cash and Taegan. There's something so touching about this story, yet it's pretty down to earth, as are the flawed characters. It's sweet and hot, touching and raw. Loved it!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 2009 Reads

I had an excellent reading month. A few new releases made it to my list, but this month I was able to hit the old TBR pile and made a small dent. I read some excellent books, plenty of good ones, and had only one real disappointment. I also had the chance to re-read four of my old M/M favorites -- that was fun. As you can see by this month's list, I'm way behind on my reviews, but I'll try to bring you up to date with a couple of Mini-Impression posts next week.

My favorite reads this month were: McKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard, one of her old category romances -- this book is a keeper for me. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, a historical romance I've had on my TBR for a long time and could never find the right time to read, and Tabula Rasa by Tori Temple a wonderful contemporary M/M cowboy romance.

1) My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy
Upcoming Review at Musings of a Bibliophile

2) Flashpoint by Jill Shalvis

3) At The Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker

4) Flashback by Jill Shalvis

5) Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

6) Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg (M/M)

7) McKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard

8) The Lone Texan by Jodi Thomas

9) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

10) Happy Ending by L.B. Gregg (M/M)

11) The Englor Affair by J.L. Langley (M/M)

12) Reckless Behavior by Amanda Young (M/M)

13) How the West Was Done - Anthology (finished it) (M/M)

14) Tabula Rasa by Tori Temple (M/M)

15) Damn Gorgeous Jaye Valentine (M/M)

16) The Tin Star by J.L. Langley (Re-read) (M/M)

17) The Broken H by J.L. Langley (Re-read) (M/M)

18) The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson (Re-read) (M/M)

19) Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes (Re-read) (M/M)

20) Untouchable by Kresley Cole - Deep Kiss of Winter Anthology

21) It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

22) This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

23) A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash

24) Unwrapped by Jaci Burton

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mini-Impressions: On my latest reads #1

I've read more this month that I have in a long time! Well, being home sick for two weeks and having nothing else to do but sleep and read helped, lol! I hit my TBR pile with a vengeance. The only drawback to that is that I really haven't had the energy or the chance to write too many reviews, or My Weekly Reads posts. Instead, I'll be posting some short impressions on this month's reads and I'll try to catch up. This is the first post for non M/M reads. :)

Flashpoint by Jill Shalvis

This is a Blaze category romance, reviewed and recommended by Leslie of Leslie's Psyche. After reading Leslie's great review, I decided to pick it up, it turned out to be the right decision for me.

A well rounded romance with a bit of mystery in it, this was a hot, hot read. I loved both the firefighter hero and the EMT heroine. This couple had lots of chemistry and Shalvis did a great job of putting them in sexually charged situations, developing the characters and taking us for a ride to a hot HEA.

At The Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker

This book came to me via Tracy from Tracy's Place. Thank you, Tracy! Recommended by another friend, I wanted to read this for a while, it turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag for me. I thought it was a sweet romance, but I did have some problems with the premise.

The hero, a duke, decides to throw a ball to find a bride for his brother -- the "perfect" bride. He himself is too much of a perfectionist and doesn't wish to marry. They proceed to choose and invite seven candidates to their country home and have what amounts to a competition. The heroine doesn't really want to go and is blackmailed into going by her step-mother -- a really lame ploy by the way, one that doesn't make sense. She, of course, is completely "inappropriate" and "imperfect." Our hero, the duke, is attracted to her himself and well... they fall for each other.

The feminist in me had a bit of a problem with having these women entering singing, archery and other competitions for a man. Never mind that some of them were eliminated for having "flaws" like a crooked tooth or for wearing glasses. I know the hero falls for the "imperfect" one in the end, however the whole process annoyed me and took away some of the enjoyment of the book. It does have a sweet happily ever after.

Flashback by Jill Shalvis

After reading Flashpoint, I had to go ahead and read Flashback, the next Blaze in this category romance series by Shalvis. Boy was this a good one! In this installment, the firefighter hero and the unemployed soap opera diva heroine have a romantic history. The heroine returned to town because her brother died and she needs to take care of his personal things. So this has the old lovers reunite trope I enjoy so much. The hero let the heroine go and broke her heart when they were younger.

This is another hot read by Shalvis. I loved that Aidan, the hero, had no problem admitting his mistakes, and our heroine is no pushover. There is a hot begging scene (Aidan is doing the begging) that I'll be re-reading. *g* I will definitely be looking for more categories by Shalvis.

McKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard

What can I say about this book? I love Linda Howard's old romances and wish she were still writing them. This is an older book and a classic I gobbled up like candy. I loved the virginal, plain, passionate heroine who came to town and had enough backbone to change the prejudiced views of a whole town, stood up for her beliefs and got her man. And her man? Hot, hot, hot! A Native American who had been abused by the townspeople, but who was willing to do what was necessary to protect his woman.

I LOVED this story by Howard and this book is now on my keeper/re-read shelf. I'm just sorry it took me so long to read it. I have the rest of the series (finally!) and will be reading it slowly, just so I can savor it. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

The Broken is a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale.

The Weird is a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny.

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the place between both worlds. A perilous existence indeed, made even more so by a flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction.

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews got my attention at hello. I started to read the first few pages just to get a feel for the book and that was it for me, I couldn't put the book down. The first section of this book is definitely an attention getter.

The characters became all around favorites. I fell in love with our heroine Rose without question. I love her personality. Rose is a strong heroine, with a great sense of humor and a direct way of dealing with those around her that I just love. Although Rose has been toughened by her past experiences, she is still giving and caring to her brothers and her community. She has been used badly by her neighbors and isn't a pushover but when push comes to shove, her strong leadership, caring qualities and sense of responsibility comes to the forefront. Rose is powerful enough to take care of herself but appreciates help when needed, something I always admire in a heroine.

Declan, the aristocrat who came from the Weird in a secret mission, is definitely the hero type. He knows his strengths and comes off as being charming, arrogant and full of himself at times. This makes for some great dialogue and situations between Rose and Declan that keeps this book more than interesting. I love that Declan is secure enough to recognize Rose's strengths and admires them, but doesn't feel insecure or threatened by her powers or her strength. I think the relationship he develops with Rose's brothers is lovely. I also like that even after he becomes enamored of Rose he is not a pushover -- the two of them become partners.

The children in this book, Rose's brothers Georgie and Jack, are an integral part of the story. Both of them contribute not only to Rose's characterization but to the plot itself. Georgie with his big heart and his powers is a character that I want to see developed in future books. Jack is adorable and fierce and I'd like to see how he turns out in future. I love the way Rose's maternal instincts and every day life concerns are weaved into this tale of magic and of good vs. evil. The other secondary character I hope to see in future books is William. His is an interesting story I'd like to see developed.

The world in this series is deceptively simple to explain. The Broken is a world without magic -- our world. The Weird is a parallel world to the Broken where all is done by magic -- one world doesn't know about the other. The people in these two worlds cannot see the boundaries between the worlds or cross over, with a few exceptions. The Edge is a strip that runs between these worlds and its inhabitants are aware of both worlds. Edgers possess some magic, although some are more powerful than others and they can cross the boundaries between the worlds. Most Edgers work and shop on the Broken. I kept thinking throughout the book... why are we the broken? It was explained that those who can pass through the unseen world boundaries lose their magic when they pass into our world and feel as if they are broken -- that's where the name comes from.

The Edge where Rose lives with her brothers is like a fictional southern lawless mountain town where the folk carry on feuds and take care of justice their own way. The fact that Rose's magic is the strongest found on the Edge acts as a double-edged sword. She can take care of herself and her family by using it, but at the same time it makes her a target not only within the Edge, but for some of the aristocratic members of the Weird who can cross over.

The plot was interesting and engaging from the beginning, I liked the way everything was revealed and not as easy to figure out as it first looked. There are twists and turns, evil magic-hungry creatures flooding the Edge and then uber-evil to fight, and Andrews excelled at putting this group of characters and this story together. If there's a complaint it might be that the end felt a bit like a fairy tale ending, but then I'm not quite sure how the next story will go... so, I'll wait and see about that.

I thought this was an excellent, fast paced read, set in a creative world with great characterization. I could not put it down until I finished it. Rose is definitely a favorite heroine and On the Edge becomes the first of an exciting new series by Ilona Andrews I'll be looking forward to reading.

You can find out more about the author here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mini-Reviews: Latest M/M Reads

During the past few weeks, I've been quite sick with flu and a viral infection. Since I cannot NOT read, in between spinning rooms and sleeping bouts, I chose to read short pieces that I could finish faster. I have a huge M/M TBR pile and decided this was the perfect time to tackle it. I'm still quite sick and not really up to par, so I'll be posting some M/M mini-impressions for you when I can.

While blog hopping and visiting friends, I encountered the blitz for Cover Me by L.B. Gregg, her new release and realized that I had not read anything by her yet! *gasp*. So, I decided to begin at the beginning and read Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg, the first book in the Men of Smithfield series.

The story begins when Mark goes totally out of control after finding out that his partner Jamie is cheating on him. The opening scene caught me unaware as I was reading it while commuting on my way home (on the bus), and it was all I could do not to laugh out loud -- whatever you do, don't read the first scene in public, I was actually mewling. However, after that scene, the situation spirals into some violence between these two and we witness how Mark loses not only focus, but his judgment suffers after he finds out that all he believed about Jamie turns out to be false.

While all this is happening, Mark gets in touch with his friend Tony for help. Tony happens to be the small town's hot Trooper and a childhood friend. He is also a man whom he loved throughout his teenage years, but whom he gave up on, believing he was not wanted. Tony helps him out as much as he can... but not before the situation reaches a serious climax.

A combination of some very funny and some seriously scary moments, this story is a roller coaster -- Mark's emotional roller coaster -- I seriously loved his character. In this book I found some great characterization, incredibly hot, hot scenes... I mean scorching in my opinion, and the realization that sometimes we're blind because we want to be. I truly enjoyed the ride.

The Englor Affair by J.L. Langley. Now this one was a mixed bag for me... I loved the whole steampunk feel to it. It was very well done... the Regency details weaved in with the sci/fi, planetary details were great. Langley does an excellent job of giving us those great details of how the society works, as well as the political intrigue and the mystery. The characterization was excellent too for the most part... I fell in love with Simon and his friends as characters before I knew it. The sex in the story is hot and steamy too, there's a lot of chemistry between Simon and Payton during those scenes.

My problem with the book came with Payton's character. He is from the Regelence Planet where men marry men, exclusively -- a whole different society from that of Englor. Now, this is a great set up and some wonderful issues arise from these differences. However, Payton's character was a contradiction. We are told that these men from Regelence tend to be strong and violent at times, etc... in other words their DNA is such that they would make great warriors, so you would expect these men to be a certain way, but to me that's not what we were shown. There was something about Payton character I felt was written more like a missish historical heroine. The way he acted, his reactions, his feelings, his thoughts, almost everything about Payton screamed heroine to me... with the exception of a few obvious fight scenes and during those hot scenes with Simon, ergo the contradiction in characterization.

I was also surprised at how easily Simon made his decision to marry Payton -- that was a big Huh? moment for me -- and the use of the "big misunderstanding" often used in historicals, that I thought was thrown in to tie the end bugged me. So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed most of the book and had major reservations about the rest.

ETA: I meant to add this and forgot (I'm still out of it). I understand The Englor Affair is a really popular book and I might be in the minority here. To be fair, I have not read My Fair Captain and might have missed something in the world building when it comes to these characters, so I'll be going backwards in this series and reading it. I'll let you know what I think when I read it. :)